Bosch's reworked automotive sensors can help control flying taxis

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Bosch

As companies from Boeing and Uber to Lilium work to develop flying taxis, Bosch wants to make the sensors they’ll require more accessible. The company says conventional aerospace technology is too expensive and bulky to use in autonomous flying vehicles. So, today, Bosch announced a plug-and-play sensor box that adapts automotive industry sensors for use in flight.

Bosch sees its box as a universal control unit. The package includes dozens of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) sensors, and the company says it will fit in any flying vehicle. While acceleration sensors will measure the aircraft’s movement, yaw-rate sensors can measure its angle of attack. Magnetic field sensors will gauge its compass heading, and pressure sensors will use barometric pressure to calculate altitude and vehicle speed.

According to Bosch, the box is a fraction of the cost compared to current aerospace sensors — though the company didn’t reveal a price. And while it hasn’t disclose any flying taxi partners, in a press release, Bosch said, “we aim to make civil aviation with flying taxis affordable for a wide range of providers.”

A few years ago, Bosch teamed up with Daimler to create self-driving taxis in San Jose, and the company’s technology has helped autonomous cars predict road conditions. We might guess that some of that work informed these sensors. Whether companies adopted the Bosch box or not, it’s likely self-driving vehicle technology will carry over into flying taxis.

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How tech does (and doesn't) help babies sleep

Getting kids to sleep is tough for any parent. Getting them to sleep in a world with so much to distract them is even tougher. The devices in our homes and pockets are designed to stimulate, excite and command our attention for as long as possible. Kids need quiet, darkness and nothing exciting going on in order to drift off, something that technology rarely offers. So check out our guide to the things you should do, and what you shouldn’t, to help your little ones get the rest they need.

Do: Limit exposure to blue light

Blue light is a part of the visible spectrum close to UV, which sends signals to our brain that it’s time to be awake. We use this light in its natural form to maintain our circadian rhythms, and in its absence, we know it’s time to sleep. In the redder light of the sunset, our brains know it’s time to produce melatonin, the sleep hormone that helps us get a full night of sleep.

Unfortunately, we don’t stop using lightbulbs, TVs and smart devices just because the sun goes down. The extra exposure to all this blue light suppresses our melatonin production, stretching out the day and compressing the night. It’s bad for adults, but exposing children to blue light has severe consequences for their development.

That’s why it’s important to set clear limits for your older kids so that they’re not watching TV, using mobile devices or playing on consoles in the hours immediately before bedtime. It’s also worth using nighttime filters on all devices and shifting your smart lights to redder hues in the evening to encourage our bodies to switch into sleep mode. There’s a relationship between disrupted sleep and ADHD-related symptoms, which improved when children wore blue-light-blocking goggles.

Do: Use a sleep-training clock

cute girl reaching out for alarm clock

Kids don’t respect the difference between day and night, and they can often wake you up in the middle of the night for no reason. Until they’re able to read and tell the time, they’re often left not knowing why you’re so groggy and/or mad when they call for you at 3 AM. That’s why a sleep-training clock can be useful to help them understand when it’s appropriate to call for you.

These devices often use a combination of simple pictures and colored lights to explain when it’s time to be asleep and awake. And if the lights are bright enough, they can pull double duty as a nightlight to help them feel secure at night. As they get older and can get up on their own, you’ll be able to let them know that it’s OK to quietly keep themselves occupied until you wake up.

Don’t: Overstimulate

Cute boy watching cartoon

Too much TV can harm a child’s development, both by depriving them of human interaction and by exposing them to content they’re not ready for. A lot of people are happy to put their kid in front of YouTube Kids, despite the obvious concerns about the content. A little bit of TV is fine, but it’s probably best not to leave them in front of it for hours.

Young brains need time to wind down and get ready to sleep, which is why kids don’t nod off 10 minutes after TV time ends. Plus, most kids’ TV shows are high energy, which is hardly conducive to creating a calm, sleepy atmosphere. Researchers have shown several times over that there’s a link between evening media consumption and poor sleep.

If you want your kids to sleep, it’s good to turn off the TV at least an hour before you put them down for the night. And it’s probably best not to let them watch hours of TV anyway. Experts say that kids under the age of two should watch nothing at all. Even after that point, researchers believe that your children shouldn’t be given unfettered access to a screen until they’re at least five.

Don’t: Trap your kids in an addiction loop

Two Friends Playing Video Game, at Night

If you’ve ever wondered why refreshing an app feels a lot like playing a one-armed bandit, blame Loren Brichter. The developer created the pull-to-refresh gesture back in 2008 to avoid adding a dedicated refresh button to his Twitter app, Tweetie. It’s emblematic of a wider trend, as tech products are designed to seduce you into giving them all of your free time.

Social apps, mobile games and even high-price console titles are all designed to create reward loops. Essentially, reward loops are short, easily replicable actions that cause your brain to secrete the “reward” hormone, dopamine. Every time you match three candies on Candy Crush Saga, complete a video game level or refresh your social feed, you’re in a loop.

It’s easy enough for adults to get hooked on these short bursts of dopamine, and we’re always playing just one more level of a game. Now imagine how hard it is for kids, who struggle to control their behavior at the best of times. Much like with TV and mobile-device use more generally, a good solution is to avoid playing games close to bedtime. Set limits, and ideally, avoid kids having these devices in their bedrooms at night until they’re mature enough to be responsible.

All of this is proof that technology can hurt your kids’ sleep if used improperly. Hell, it’s bad for adults, so we could all do with a lesson in managing our screen time responsibly. The best possible thing you can do is minimize your kids’ exposure to technology, especially in the hour or two before bedtime. Whatever the inconveniences, it’ll be worth it when they’re getting to sleep, and letting you do the same.

Images: kwanchaichaiudom via Getty Images (Child with Alarm Clock); jovan_epn via Getty Images (Overstimulated child); MilicaStankovic via Getty Images (Boys playing games)

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

After training to be an intellectual property lawyer, Dan abandoned a promising career in financial services to sit at home and play with gadgets. He lives in Norwich, U.K., with his wife, his books and far too many opinions on British TV comedy. One day, if he’s very, very lucky, he’ll live out his dream to become the executive producer of Doctor Who before retiring to Radio 4.

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Samsung Galaxy Home mini surfaces in FCC filing

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The Galaxy Home smart speaker hasn’t hit stores yet, but that hasn’t stopped Samsung from working on a miniature version of the Bixby-powered device. As spotted by CNET, a smaller version of the Galaxy Home was revealed in an FCC filing released on Tuesday. The “mini” will use Bluetooth 4.2, which may disappoint Samsung Galaxy S8 owners who are used to the newer Bluetooth 5.0 standard on their phones. Also notable is that the smaller Galaxy Home connects by micro USB, instead of the USB-C which has become standard on most new devices.

Not much else is known about the Galaxy Home mini as Samsung requested that the FCC keep most photos of the device and the user manual confidential for six months. We do get a sneak peek of the speaker from the FCC filing.

A look at the top of the Galaxy Home mini reveals volume buttons, a power button and an AKG label, which is Samsung’s audio brand. Given that both Amazon and Google sell smaller, cheaper versions of their flagship smart speakers, it’s no surprise that Samsung wants to do the same. There’s no word on when the Galaxy Home or its smaller counterpart will arrive, and Samsung did not respond immediately to a request from Engadget for comment. But the fact that the miniature Samsung speaker is passing through FCC testing means the release date is likely in the near future. Samsung originally promised an April launch for the Galaxy Home, but it was pushed back to “sometime in the first half of 2019,” according to the company.

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Researchers say 'spidey senses' could help self-driving vehicles avoid hazards

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Taylor Callery

Researchers want to give cars, planes and drones “spidey senses.” That is, they want to give autonomous machines sensors that mimic nature. In a paper published in ACS Nano, a team of researchers — from Purdue University, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and ETH Zürich — propose integrating spider-inspired sensors into the exterior of autonomous machines. Doing so, they say, would allow vehicles to selectively process data faster than currently possible.

As the researchers explain, one reason nature is able to process data so quickly is that things like spiders, bats and birds don’t have to process all data — just the information necessary to survival. For example, when prey lands on a spider’s web, hairs on the spider’s legs vibrate at a specific frequency and stimulate mechanosensors. But when dust lands on the web, the mechanosensors don’t respond to the frequency of that vibration. So, the researchers are working to develop sensors that would respond in a similar way, selectively processing information, which would cut down on their data load.

The sensors could go one step further. According to Purdue, the sensors on spiders’ legs are able to switch between sensing and responding to stimuli, or between acting as mechanosensors and mechanoreceptors. “There’s no distinction between hardware and software in nature; it’s all interconnected,” said Andres Arrieta, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue. “A sensor is meant to interpret data, as well as collect and filter it.” The researchers are designing their spider-inspired sensors to do the same.

The sensors they’re developing change shape when activated by an external force that meets a predetermined threshold. Changing shape makes conductive particles move closer together so that electricity can flow through the sensor and carry a signal. That signal then informs how the autonomous system should respond. In doing so, the sensors not only sense and filter at a fast rate, they also compute without a power supply. If the team is successful in developing and deploying such sensors, they could potentially help autonomous drones navigate dangerous environments and self-driving cars avoid hazards in the road.

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Tech's favorite bag brand will sell you a $600 carbon fiber tripod

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Peak Design

Peak Design is known for its trendy (and pricey) camera bags and straps — it’s the kit du jour for photographers and vloggers. And now it’s adding a travel tripod to the fold. It might not be the most exciting product launch ever, but it looks like the company has put a lot of thought into its design, and it packs a pretty powerful punch in terms of on-the-go features.

While traditional tripods are bulky and take up space, Peak Design’s Travel Tripod has legs that nest perfectly together, achieving a maximum diameter of just 3.25 inches (around the same as a water bottle) while still boasting a height of 58.5 inches, so it’s pretty portable. Additionally, the tripod head comes with a single adjustment ring for super-fast camera attachment. The ball head measures 3.25 inches, so it aligns with the tripods overall profile, and can still accommodate a full frame DSLR with a telephoto lens. Other handy features include a universal phone mount, bubble level and hook for counterweights.

Travel Tripod is available with carbon fiber or aluminium legs, and, as you’d expect, a hefty price tag of $600 / $350 respectively. Get in quick for a pre-sale discount on Peak Design’s Kickstarter, or get it in time for your vacation when it goes on sale with the usual major retailers later this summer.

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